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The iPad Interview

Oct 1

In Computer Technology, Friends at 6:48am

Bill Frakes and Joe McNally iPad Interview from Manfrotto on Vimeo.

While I have to admit to being simultaneously over and underwhelmed by Photokina, one really fun thing happened. Bill Frakes and I did kind of a Penn and Teller, Mutt and Jeff, Harry and Sally…, wait a minute……kind of thing with the iPad, the new must have, go to, touch screen thingamawhooziebopper that promises to change everything. I mean, it’s so cool, even I have one. (Gift!)

What’s not to like about a device that makes all our pictures look snappy and great, even when they’re (at least occasionally)  a bunch of highly processed turds?

Technology aside, the fun thing about the week was hanging with Bill, and then doing this first ever, ballyhooed, much anticipated, cast of thousands side by side interview on the Ipad with him, done at the behest of the Manfrotto School of Excellence. What was even cooler was that we did the interviews at separate times, and both of us, when asked about favorite shooters, and who we looked up to when first taking a camera in hand, our answer came back the same–W. Eugene Smith.

Hanging in this biz for a long time gives lots of stuff to you, one those things being friends and colleagues. I have known Bill for many years, first as a premier newspaper shooter out of Florida, and then, for a long time, one of the cornerstones of Sports Illustrated’s photo operation. He is the quintessential road warrior, logging so many miles every year, he makes me look like a shut in. And here’s the thing: In an age when making a good or even great snap or two seems deceptively easy, Bill defines what it means to be a pro. That means he hits it, and hits it hard every time out. The amount of grief and blockage he’s gotta drill through on every job is daunting. Logistics, shipping, credentials, access, time, weather, prima donna athletes, over controlling PR folks, red face coaches–all can conspire against the shooter and make every job feel like storming the gates of Mordor.

Then, after all that exhaustion, by the way, you gotta shoot some pictures. Which he does, in astonishing and defining fashion, time in, time out. He’s shot more SI covers than I can count, and in many ways re-defined, or even invented all over, how to cover major events. I mean, he’s terrific moving and shooting the sidelines, which is a lot of what sports guys need to do. But, when it comes to the obsessive determination it takes to run 60 to 70 remote cameras at the finish line of the Kentucky Derby just to get that split second, winner by a nose picture, he takes a back seat to no one on the planet.

And then, given the love of his craft, and drive to excel, he continues to do it, year after year, even after the magazine, given limitations of space, and occasionally editorial vision, use only one frame, or, sometimes, none at all.

Which is why, wisely, he is in the forefront of the video DSLR surge, and using multi-media on the web to tell stories with lots of pictures and sound, and not simply be constrained by paper and ink. Check out his website…..

In Tampa….Kelby Tour stop…should be a blast…..more tk…..

Tim Skipper says:

on October 1, 2010 at 8:14 am

I saw this video on another blog yesterday it is very cool. The part I really like is seeing who people I look up to, look up to. (I think that is horrible grammar but you get the drift).

A few days ago Scott Kelby listed the photographers he admired, I said it then so I will repeat it here, it’s always good to look up to someone, otherwise your always looking down on everyone.

Bill Wittman says:

on October 1, 2010 at 10:30 am

I have early memories of W Eugene Smith’s work in Life Magazine. I was powerfully drawn to the frequent profiles of his work his craft and his struggles featured in the camera magazines of the 50s and early 60s.
I believe W Eugene Smith’s ability to reach into the universal human heart is at the Genesis of my career-life aspirations.
Recently – my daughter had the inspiration to give me the book: ‘The Jazz Loft Project’. I feel this book further illuminates his grasping genius – his personal shadows – and gives compassionate texture to his abiding experience of compulsion – and darkness. I hope you have had time to read it.
BTW – thank you for your Kelby work – your natural gift to teach and your commitment to our craft – helping us fill in the precious spaces between the heel and toe of light.

Nicolai brix says:

on October 1, 2010 at 12:47 pm

Hi Joe.

Thanks for participating in this interview even that you and Bill was on a very thight program by the School. Kristof and I (i’m the camara and editing guy) thought that it was great fun and are very pleased with it and very pleased that you and Bill liked the idea :) … and thanks for coffee 😉

Eric Politzer says:

on October 1, 2010 at 12:59 pm

did Einar feed you the 1973 joke? if so, he is making great progress!!

William Chinn says:

on October 1, 2010 at 5:06 pm

As I mentioned elsewhere in a blog last week, Smith’s work got me to take camera in hand also. He defined photojournalism for a generation. For those who never heard of him, try a google in your spare time to “see” insanity, the point of death, or how man can destroy man with chemicals.

Aris says:

on October 3, 2010 at 11:29 pm

Sorry to be an anal bastard, but the Manfrotto School of excellence couldn’t even be bothered to use a spell check when they made the vid. (1:26). There’s a letter missing in a very important word.

Joe S says:

on October 4, 2010 at 11:02 am


Thanks for coming to Tampa. Although I have seen all of your videos, it was even better to see things live. I hope Scott treated you to dinner at Bern’s. I would have if my kids didn’t have a game that evening.

Jim says:

on October 4, 2010 at 2:41 pm

Just was notified that Joe’s new book shipped from Amazon on this date. Whoopee!!!

William Chinn says:

on October 4, 2010 at 6:53 pm

ps. Amazon shipped my McNally Life book today.

stephen says:

on October 5, 2010 at 3:02 pm

This isn’t the same W. Eugene Smith is it?

i tried googling him and didn’t seem to come up with much success.

Alan says:

on October 5, 2010 at 7:25 pm

Nice interview(s)

I do love my iPad as well.
Actually just finishing up writing a book about the iPad and weirdly enough I wrote part of it on the the actual iPad.
I love having the ability to have photos, videos, pdfs and all kinds of other “stuff” at my fingertips on one device that I don’t have to squint at to read.

Marcmelendezll@mentioned? says:

on October 7, 2010 at 3:08 pm

What was the name of the other photographer that Bill mentioned? Tx

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